By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 19, 2012- Clashes between Sunni and Houthi fighters renewed on Wednesday and Thursday in two provinces of Yemen, where Shia rebel attempts to control and expand in new areas in the north.
Sources said that clashes took place in two separate places reporting that fierce clashes erupted in Ahem district of Hajeh province while district of Ketaf of Sa'ad province witnessed sporadic clashes between the two groups. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage there.
Security sources said that sporadic clashes erupted in Sa'ada province between Houthis and Sunnis in Al-Fehloni, Ghemar, Tadhela, and al-Qatea cities, wounding at least 4 Sunni fighters.
Al-Houthis who seemingly is continuing its anti-government campaign despite having claimed that it wanted to move away from war and into dialogue as it seeks to be recognized as a genuine political faction, risk engulfing North Yemen in another lengthy war. With 4 Northern provinces under their control, the Shia rebel group represents a growing threat to national unity, by draining much needed government resources and preventing troops from fighting terrorism in the South.
Two months ago, al-Houthi group was hit by a bomb during an anti-U.S. protest wounding at least 22 people. The group accused in a statement the United States of America of having fomented the attack.
However, since al-Houthis have several other very real enemies, determining which faction was being the attack could turn to be a difficult task. Over the past few past the Shia group has come to clash numerously with, Salafists, a fundamentalist Sunni which bears political affiliation with al-Islah, Yemen’s Islamic party. The 2 have been debating their different religious doctrine, belief and political stance on the battlefield, with both factions refusing to back down.
The Shia rebels who are led by Saada-based Sheikh Abdel-Malek al-Houthi oppose the political-settlement deal that swore in the country’s consensus President Abdu-Rabbo Mansour Hadi and ended almost a year of protests against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
In recent months, the region has seen bouts of fighting between al-Houthis and Sunni Muslims espousing puritanical Salafi doctrines, influential in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Houthis have accused Riyadh of arming their foes. Sunnis make up nearly 60 percent of Yemen’s population, while the Shia account for 40 percent.
Al-Houthi-led rebels have been engaging in severe sectarian conflicts for several months with Sunni fundamentalists in Saada and the neighboring provinces of Hajja and Jawf that left hundreds of people killed and forced thousands of residents to flee their villages.
Yemen has witnessed sporadic battles since 2004 between the government troops and the rebels, with Sana’a accusing al-Houthis of seeking to re-establish the clerical rule of the Imams overthrown by the Yemeni revolution in 1962 which gave birth to the Yemeni republic.